The biggest parenting struggles happen for me when I'm trying to control something that I can't control. That's had me reflecting on the tension between control and power lately.
Think about bowling. If you've ever bowled you may know that feeling of wanting to control the ball after you let it go. It's rolling down the floor and maybe you lean or talk to it or will it to go the way you want it to. Have you ever done that? We don't have any power over what happens to the ball after it leaves our hand, but there's an illusion of control.
As parents, the same thing can happen. We want to control what is out of our hands. Consider the struggles that happen in your family, whether you're the parent of an infant or grown ups. Do you ever want them to be happy, tired, or quiet when they aren't? Want them to eat the meal you made and like it when they don't? Want them to make a choice that you believe will be better for them than the one they are making? If so, you know how frustrating this can be!
At the very heart of mindful parenting is the practice of accepting what we can not control. This includes many of our child's behaviors as well as our own feelings and thoughts. Instead of wasting energy trying to control that which is not in our hands, we practice being present and choosing how to respond wisely. Right use of power is something I will write about soon, but let's start now with the first step, releasing the illusion of control. Today, if you start to react to something your child does, consider the question, 'Am I in control of this situation? Has the bowling ball already left my hand?' If so, slow down and be present. What is the wisest response you can make to the situation as it is?
I'm a mom, wife, daughter, friend, and teacher who has long struggled with the desire to be the perfect person I imagine that I should be. Practicing mindfulness has changed my life, helping me to make peace with myself as I truly am and to appreciate my family, life, and the world as they actually are.